Yangyel Lhaden

The Build Bhutan Project (BBP) engaged 633 workers, which included 309 unskilled workers, 68 engineers, and 256 skilled workers until now.

The project was initiated with a budget of 1.04 billion under the economic contingency plan to address labour shortage and provide employment to those who lost job because of the pandemic last year.

It aimed at engaging 7,000 Bhutanese workers over a period of two years, of which 2,000 will be provided with skilling, reskilling and upskilling opportunities in construction trades leading to national certification.

During the recent mid-term review, the labour ministry sought approval for BBP to be integrated in the 12th Plan outside the ministry’s plan budget ceiling.

Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering, during 42nd ‘meet the press’, said BBP would continue after two years and that it would be given priority even if it is not included in the 12th Plan.

He said BBP was in a trial phase, which was the reason why expected results were not seen. “We are accessing and improving BBP by strengthening skilling programmes and training on skills, which will be useful after the pandemic to individuals.”

Lyonchhen said useful and important components of BBP would remain a regular activity and BBP could expand to other trades and not only construction.

Layog Lyonpo (labour minister) Ugyen Dorji said their priority was on skilling people. “Currently more than 200 people are undergoing skilling programmes.”

According to records with labour ministry 451 people availed skilling last year. This year, 712 individuals are availing skilling programmes out of which 451 are on-job training and 261 in training institutes.

There are three components of BBP- direct engagement, skilling, and recognition of prior learning (RPL).

RPL was initiated to address the shortage of skilled labour force, where unskilled workers can undergo test called RPL to get certified as skilled workers.

This year, 140 people were certified as skilled workers through RPL and 73 individuals were certified through RPL last year.

With the help of BBP, 17 specialised firms was established in November last year, which increased to 23 by the end of last year. This year, there are 36 specialised firms.

Lyonchhen, during the mid-term review, said the ministry should focus more on improving and enhancing the quality of existing firms rather than registering many firms.

Meanwhile, the labour ministry is still reviewing the salary raise it promised to BBP workers in February this year.

Lyonpo Ugyen Dorji said the review would provide insights and recommendations to improve the modality and design of BBP.

He said a holistic approach would be developed to address issues Bhutanese face in the construction sector to make it more sustainable and ensure better facilities for the employees.